3 CRM Alternatives to Salesforce for Real Estate Agents
Leads are the lifeblood that fuel any sales-oriented business nowadays. If you’re not staying on top of your lead management efforts, you’re not only missing out on potential opportunities, but you also risk losing existing customers to the competition.
While Word docs and Excel spreadsheets may serve you well when you have just a handful of leads to work with, as their numbers grow, you’ll need a more sophisticated system. This is because just based on sheer volume, it gets increasingly harder to track, remember, follow-up and close deals with each new lead you acquire.
This is where CRM software comes in and why a good one is so important for real estate agents. Here are some of the major benefits:
Keep track of contacts
CRM software gathers all customer-related information and documentation and stores it in a single database, allowing you to manage leads without ever losing track of their spot in your sales pipeline. As your business grows, you’ll certainly need to sort your contacts into groups – past clients, referrals, website leads, etc. – in order to approach them with appropriate and timely messages.
Automate routine tasks
How many times do you follow up with a single lead during the day? How many leads do you need to follow up with in total? Wouldn’t it be great if you could automate the follow-ups? CRM software helps you manage these tasks automatically and allows you to craft messages in a personalized fashion, making sure that your leads won’t feel mistreated.
Manage the financial aspect
Most CRM systems offer deal management features, making transactions management a breeze. You can easily track any past and/or future tasks associated with each deal in literally any sales cycle stage – with just a few clicks.
Email, social media, marketing, and phone/video call integrations allow you to consolidate all your efforts in a single place. You’ll never need to use a separate app for anything work-related.
Have an even playing field with the competition – A few years ago, this bullet would’ve been called “gain a competitive edge.” However, things are moving very fast and today, close to 70% of real estate agents are already using a CRM software. If you’re looking to stay in business, you need to keep up and ensure you have the CRM that can make you work most effectively.
Why Not Salesforce?
If you’ve heard about CRMs, you’ve probably heard about Salesforce. The industry giant is the first enterprise cloud company to reach $10 billion annual revenue. It has also been named #1 CRM provider by International Data Corporation (IDC) for the fourth consecutive year in a row in 2017.
You’re probably wondering “If these guys are the best, why do I even need an alternative?”
The thing is, choosing the right CRM isn’t about finding the best in the world. It’s about finding the best one for your specific case.
While this industry pioneer offers a solid product, it does lack in certain areas, particularly when it comes to small business needs. For instance, Salesforce doesn’t support any public clouds (like Amazon, Microsoft Azure, etc.), which is highly limiting in terms of hosting and portability. They are also weaker on the marketing side of things. If you’re looking for at least some marketing automation in your daily tasks, you’ll need to utilize a 3rd party software, which essentially doubles costs. Finally, although it can be used by a business of any size, Salesforce is primarily designed for large enterprises.
Today, a number of different CRM vendors offer tools with more advanced functionality and features at much more affordable costs while also being specifically tailored to small businesses. Here are 3 recommended Salesforce alternatives for real estate agents:
1. Pipedrive – Best for sales-oriented small businesses
Pipedrive CRM is specifically designed to help small businesses establish a seamless sales cycle and have enough information on everything sales-related. You can store all existing, new and future client information in a single place by importing their details from an Excel sheet. You can also customize the tool to best fit your processes.
By setting up a web form on your site, you can directly capture lead information, which will automatically be transferred to the CRM. Over 100 integrations including Google Apps, emails and marketing software enables you to easily sync various tools and harmonize their activities.
Pipedrive allows you to classify and prioritize leads and contacts and automatically assign them to a corresponding stage in the sales pipeline to stay on top of your deals. The sales forecasting feature helps you understand which deals are more likely to close, while the fairly detailed reporting section allows you to improve existing processes and identify new opportunities.
2. Freshsales – Best for handling customer requests
As a real estate agent, a big part of your job is to respond to customer queries and requests in a personalized, timely and professional manner. Here, contextual data is key to achieving success.
Let’s say a customer wants to buy a house and reaches out to you. With customer information at your disposal and some effort into social media research (understand the customer’s taste, lifestyle, etc.), you’ll be able to create a highly professional and personalized message that will impress the prospect.
Freshsales CRM is specifically designed to aid businesses in maximizing their efforts by personalizing conversations and easily tracking the progress of their deals. The built-in phone and email apps save time on switching between apps and let you reach out to customers via your desired channel. Furthermore, the system traces and alerts you the instant a lead opens one of your emails, giving you even more information to determine your next step.
Finally, the lead scoring features allow you to identify those leads that are more likely to close, based on their sales-ready buying signals and behavior.
3. Active Campaign – Best for combining automation, marketing, and sales
ActiveCampaign is an excellent CRM, particularly if marketing plays a big role in your processes. The tool features drag and drop functionality in almost every section, meaning that it’ll be very easy to use even if you haven’t laid eyes on a CRM system before.
The tool is designed to offer a lot of automation and customization when setting up the customer journey. For instance, you can create a custom sales process to automatically nurture leads in any given stage.
Imagine you send an email to a potential customer and she replies back. Using the contact details, you’ll be able to host a pleasantly personalized, contextual conversation with the prospect and leave a great impression. After the call, you can use the system to automatically take the next step based on the action taken by your prospect:
- Event 1 – The prospect visits your pricing page within 24 hours. Respond with an automated, personalized offer.
- Event 2 – The lead doesn’t visit your pricing page. Send an automated follow-up.
Furthermore, the smart lead scoring mechanism lets you prioritize leads based on who’s more likely to convert. Finally, you get to really understand your potential clients with the help of social and behavioral data presented by the tool. This data includes interests, social media profiles, interactions with your marketing campaigns, behavioral actions on your website and the likelihood of closing a deal.
Free vs. Paid CRM Solutions
While there are a number of completely free CRM solutions out there like HubSpot CRM, we would recommend staying away from those for a number of reasons:
1. You can’t rely on customer support when utilizing free systems.
This means that whenever a technical issue occurs, it will slow your operations and hurt income.
2. Paid tools don’t cost a fortune.
Most CRM best value pricing packages range from $18 to $30 per user/monthly, which won’t break the bank. In addition to customer support, you get security (the vendor is responsible for your customer data), backups and reassurance that the tool you’re using won’t suddenly close down one day.
3. Most free systems offer limited functionality.
Sure, you’ll be able to access basic customer management features, but if you’re looking for automation, multiple integrations, lead scoring, sales forecasting or any other advanced feature that adds value, you won’t get it for free.
CRM tools aren’t scary, difficult or designed to leach money out of your real estate business. They add tangible value and allow you to save time and effort on routine activities while enabling to improve existing processes. If you’re in the sales business, you need a CRM solution. It’s as simple as that.